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The Fernhurst Society

Oral history interviews: sport

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John Allen | Paul Heath

John Allen

Over the years we’ve had a few different celebrities come and play against us. One that still comes every year is Tim Rice. I was talking to Tim this year, we had a cricket lunch to entertain our Vice Presidents (Tim is one) and some of our sponsors and he said that he thinks this is the 21st year that he’s actually been coming. So that fixture’s been going for quite a long period. That started more by accident than anything.

What is his team normally?

The Heartaches. Every year Tim actually produces an almanac on the previous season.  He has every game listed with a report, the standard of the teas, funny things that might have happened during that particular game.

Fernhurst during the war, it had an army camp adjacent to it and there were many other places locally that had servicemen.  I think a lot of the local teams used to try and keep up their fixtures, although they probably lost some of their own players to service during the war. They used to be able to get a few odd lads from the camp, the Admiralty at Haslemere and wherever they could scramble a few together from, to keep the clubs going.  At that time I’m sure it was a big effort for everybody to try and get teams but at least it gave them a chance to break the monotony from the wartime habits and give some of the people in the Fernhurst camp the odd game or two, as well as the few that were left in the village.

I’ve actually lived in this village since 1963 when we were married and we came here to live.  My home really was at King Edward VII hospital and in my early days I played cricket at Woolbeding. I really came here to play football first of all when I finished my National Service because most of my schooldays were spent on the other side of the hill in the Easbourne/Midhurst area where I went to school. I came down to work at ICI in 1953 and I did my National Service in July 54, came out in July 56. It was then really I came back to ICI temporarily because I got a place at an agricultural college so I had a little bit of time to put in. I think it was people like Peter Larbey and Mick Phillips who were well known footballers here who persuaded me to come and play football here.  So I think it was in season ‘56/57 I actually came here to play football and that was when I probably got to know of people like Ron Coles and Tommy Silver and people like that. As I can remember, Ron was always the Chairman of the Recreation Ground Management Committee,Chairman of the Trustees and he was likewise with the village hall and he had the village paper shop and the greengrocers shop.



Paul Heath

Can we now go on to your sporting interests? What sports did you take part in? Any special memories, or games or characters?

The only sport that I’ve taken part in in the village is cricket.And I started playing for Fernhurst Second Team when I was 12 or 13, about 13. I don’t know how it came about, but I started playing. And I went on a regular basis and I played with people such as your, no I didn’t play with your Dad, I played with, Tom, Tom umpired, many a game that was. There was Don Pope, there was Alphie Ralph, Curly Lambert, Derek Quinnell, this is going over a few years, not just when I started. Phil and Peter May, who lived at Marley Hanger. I’m trying to think who else there was that played. I can see them but I cannot think of their names at the moment…. . I played until I was about 16/17, for Fernhurst. And then I was poached, or went and played for Verdley, which was ICI’s cricket team. For about 2 years I played Saturdays any game they had down there, and I would play any Sundays they didn’t have a game, I would play for Fernhurst.  And I did that for two or three years. I always remember that we actually went a whole season and a half on the Sundays without winning a single game. The Captain at that time was Stan Cobbold, his brother would play sometimes and his son would play. I think there’s only one of his family now that still has anything to do with cricket and that’s Carl, who has played for Haslemere in the last few years.

But I’m now back playing for Fernhurst, joined the Iadsum….it’s a local… league and I think they started, they went right from the bottom the fourth or fifth division, right through to the first, the first division, managed to stay there till this year and unfortunately this year they were relegated to the second division. The seconds have done similar, got up to the third division about two years ago. Unfortunately through lack of players they are going to be disbanded before next year. My time at Verdley…I do remember as a child there being a cup which was called the Ashurst Cup, which was something that was played every year at ICI Verdley’s Open Day. The game would be between the village and Plant Protection/ICI. Why it stopped, I don’t know. I think the Open Days stopped. From what I can remember, it was a good day, it was a nice day down there, you could have a wander round the site at ICI and everything, and it was a very pleasant day, but it stopped eventually. I played at Verdley, I only played friendlies, for 26 years in actual fact. Sounds horrible, a long time, but there we go! But on their last year, their last dinner and prize giving, I found out that it was about 1950, I think it was, that the ground was laid. It was just a crop, just an ordinary field and the ground staff at ICI, or Plant Protection as it was then, set to and they got Tom Quinnell, had loads of photos.which he lent the club to bring along to show. It was quite interesting. How they laid it, what’s underneath it, it’s a big lump of clay under the square. But we played many years down there, I think my uncle played down there, Uncle Vernon played there. They played very good friendly games. Twice, we played in the Ebernoe Horn Fair. We were invited to play in the Ebernoe Horn Fair, which at the time was quite a thing to be done. We lost both games unfortunately. But not badly. I think we didn’t let ourselves down. We did quite well. But I do remember some of the old boys. I was just trying to think of some the names from Verdley. Probably there aren’t any well known village names apart from Gordon Wright who was down there for many years. Alf Brads  who was down there for many years, people may know him. I played cricket down there with his son Kirk for many a year, until he moved away.

You mentioned Tom Quinnell. Did he play?

Yes, Tom, Tom Quinnell played there. He was one of the ground staff who put the square in. Tom was actually Captain for quite a few years, but way before my time. He’s actually, David Quinnell I mentioned with the scouts, it’s his Dad, is Tom. But I never played with Tom. I think he ended up at Woolbeding.  With my Uncle Les, played at Woolbeding. It was just a square in the middle of a field.   As the village goes, I’m back playing for the village for the moment. Hence the reason I know they’re going down the pan, as far as their first division status is concerned. We do our best.



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The Fernhurst Oral History Project was supported by the Local Heritage Initiative. The Local Heritage Initiative was developed by the Countryside Agency and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nationwide Building Society.